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Will It Get Better?


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I have just started working in a committee run pre-school after working in a private nursery pre school for 5 years. I am finding it really difficult adjusting to the changes.

The committee members are all really nice people but they just don't seem to be bothered about anything we are doing with the children just homing in on things we are not doing.

they hover around in preschool for too long just chatting to eachother , leaving their younger children to run about the hall upsetting all the activities laid out. I think they feel we are there to play play play, they haven't even looked or asked about planning etc. we are there to play with toys and nothing else. I don't think I am going to settle as they don't seem to realise how much work we do together as a team and how hard we work at home.

if we ask for something to be done, we have to ask again and again. I thought they were supposed to support us or am I wrong. I also find it hard that they all seem to talk about the team behind our backs and pass on information that maybe they shouldn't. how long does it take to adjust. My six month probation period will be up next month. Do you think I Should reconsider my position.

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Hi Jessica -

 

I'm sorry to say that this is fairly typical of Committees, in my experience (may be limited, I agree!) At the end of the day, they are doing this, usually, in a voluntary capacity, largely because they want to have a say in their children's experiences. I hold my hand up to say that was my motivation, in the deep mists of time, although I was so ensnared by the experience that I had to go further - and maybe some of your parents (now or in the future) will take that route. So, nurture them all, as much as you can.

 

You need to make it clear you aren't a baby sitting service for those younger children (hard at first, but it does get easier!!) Invite them to staff and/or planning meetings (the Committee, that is, not the younger children!) so they begin to realise what you actually do. Involve them as much as you can in development of the group...things like going for accreditation etc - including being part of the Working Party! (My tack was - it's YOUR group, you help us show how good we are!)

 

Yes, you will have to ask more than once, twice or even more - for precisely the reasons said. This is not a career, but a 'career-break' for some. So it's a leisurely thing. You need to involve them in planning etc (as above) ASAP, so they quickly see you as professionals, not 'players'.

 

Organise some information sessions (it will help if you offer a creche for a wide age range so you can get their undivided attention) so that you can present yourself and your team in that professional capacity, working within a recognised 'pre-school curriculum', followed by all settings providing for children within this age range, maintained or not.

 

Hope that's some help - and sorry if I've come across as bossy!

 

Sue :o

 

Oh, PS!

Yes, they shouldn't talk about you! So tell them so, when you're showing them how professional you are - would they talk about class teachers in that fashion?

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Great advice from Sue R and a realistic perception of the difference between volunteers and paid staff, also different agendas for the roles you are both doing.

 

If you feel you are too close to the situation to challenge or change behaviour etc have you considered asking your advisory teacher / early years development officer for support? He/she could carry out some workshops for the committee on subjects such as curriculum, national standards ( including policy in practice ie: the importance of maintaining confidentiality).

 

Have you had any supervision meetings during your trial period? If not, Maybe it would be an idea to ask for one, this would be an opportunity to air your concerns in a less formal situation than end of trial period job appraisal / review.

 

I would say that to answer your question you need to balance and weigh up the pros and cons of the job as a whole, not just the committees input but also the team you work with, the children, the environment / resources, pay, how much does the job meet your expectations and needs? What other jobs are available?

 

Good luck.

 

 

Peggy

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just another thought, some committee members may change come September ( due to their own children leaving the group for school), and maybe a dynamic early years focused person may just come along and join the committee. You never know. :oxD

 

Peggy

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I agree totally with what peggy and sue have said. We are a committee run pre-school and some times you do feel as if you are hitting your head aginst a brick wall. We started with lots of committee members but as the years gone on its got less that attend committee meetings.

Do bear in mind they change, our AGM is at the beginning of October, so its a good time to speak to parents who you think would be good on the committee and give them a gentle nudge in the right direction.

I actually got our surestart rep to talk to the committee. What i also did was when we did our parent consultation meeting about the children, committee member parents i showed each one individually our planning folder etc. Just to help them realise what we do.

good luck with what ever you decide.

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I agree totally with what peggy and sue have said. We are a committee run pre-school and some times you do feel as if you are hitting your head aginst a brick wall. We started with lots of committee members but as the years gone on its got less that attend committee meetings.

Do bear in mind they change, our AGM is at the beginning of October, so its a good time to speak to parents who you think would be good on the committee and give them a gentle nudge in the right direction.

I actually got our surestart rep to talk to the committee. What i also did was when we did our parent consultation meeting about the children, committee member parents i showed each one individually our planning folder etc. Just to help them realise what we do.

good luck with what ever you decide.

Thank you Simcity. I have talked to them and tried to show them planning, scrap books , photos etc. but it doesn't really get a response. I will keep at it and maybe get there when they have settled as a group. They seem to think their roles are far more important at the moment.

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Hi Jessica,

 

I worked with a committee for 8 years, theres good and bad in all of them, one messed up so much we were almost not paid for a few weeks on the trot, while another got us grants and managed things wonderfully.

 

We also had younger siblings running around. I suspected we were on dodgy ground with insurance and ratio's so I asked the committee to look into these aspects for me. They stopped hanging around inside! Like Sue R says, I used ask them at meetings what they wanted me to do, had they any comments about the work so far, did they want me to plan anything in particular into the term?

I was always ready to tell them it waa stheir group, they owned it, it was for their children.

 

How about an information day for all parents? Displays of the childrens work with a brief outline of what the learning intention was and the other learning that took place. Relate everything to the stepping stones or goals, add a bit about how 'next week we will do...' to show how you will further the childrens development.

 

I used to blind the committee with science, make it seem ever so complicated so they would realise how hard we worked, because telling them didnt work.

 

Like Peggy says, September might bring a motivated, inspirational person along. :o

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I too work for a committee run pre-school. We find it very hard to get anybody at all, let alone enthuastic ones, to come on the committee. One parent has just resigned over her child not actually getting a place at the group (long and complicated mess).

We have had lots of problems getting paid but feel that if we complain about this, the people responsible can just resign. At the end of each term we have toy and room cleaning days - committee members are invited to help out but no takers!!!! Some of them show their faces at fund-raising events but not for long.

We are hoping that September will bring changes, for the better, and we will continue to encourage new parents to come onto the committee.

We are a small friendly team of professionals and can't understand why people who join a pre-school committee think it is all about status and showing their faces at a few meetings a year.

Thank you - I feel much better now!!!!

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I work for a committee run pre-school. What you describe sounds pretty familiar, for all the reasons described by everybody else. One or two of them work really hard on the various projects we are undertaking but I have been asking for a finance sub committee/working group since September, to help me with the financial side of things. I am the deputy and paid administrator and basically do the job of the treasurer because it was too much for a volunteer (but it's OK for me to work all hours) to do but I keep saying that the responsibility for budgeting, forecasting etc should be shared but they just stick their heads in the sand. The basic problem is running what is essentially a business by largely inexperienced volunteers. Having said that, being on the committee is how I got started.

 

As a staff team we work very hard for the children, and love working with them, so that keeps us going but it is becoming increasingly hard with the increased workload for such poor remuneration.

 

Some good suggestions for showing the committee how professional you are and what you undertake. When all else fails refer to some guidelines or other, insurance, national standards etc!

 

In our area, we have briefing meetings next half term for the new EYFS. Staff and the registered person are required to attend, do you have anything like this. Perhaps it will open a few eyes as to the workload.

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A lot of good advise given as usual :(

Reading your posts has made me appreciate our committee even more then I do!

We have been so lucky to have dedicated and appreciative parents who have worked very hard all year to put together our lovely new garden.

But the insurance issue is a good reason NOT to have them running around. I think you need to be more assertive Jessica 'come along ladies I need to lock up to keep your children safe' We do have the occasional stragglers with siblings but I dont move away from the door untill it is locked so it usually ets them moving.! :( Do you have committee meetings why not bring it up there tell them you and your staff dont feel appreciated xD perhaps im too bolshy now ive been in charge 3years!!!

I just feel you are there year after year and they come and go :o

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committees change...regularly...often these days every year as many children are only with you to give enough time for them to serve for that long. Unless you are lucky (or unlucky in some cases) where several children follow through the group.

 

They are volunteers who often do not understand the level of reponsibility they hold. I once had one really good secretary, helping run sure start initative when started in this area lots of ideas and input..only to be chased away by a stubborn chairperson who wanted total control and did not want her 'interference'. (Now she runs the local childrens centre, how we all wished she would stay at the time, lucky she still helps me with advice occasionally)

 

This year excellent committee supportive, doing things for us, helping out, but next who knows? I cannot get a chair person at all so have managed to co opt someone willing to take the position, until I can find someone... may be never we try every year but get no where.

 

I always give committee a copy of the standards, as well a a FS profile book and info on FS profile. make up displays of photos, sometimes in 'learning stories which show how the children are learning and with that copies of the planning which relates to it. BUt you cannot force them to read it or evne understndthe content..often baffles them so they then do all you ask!

We invite them to staff meetings, but they never come, partly because they have said they employ us as the experts to deal with that side, and luckily they have been supportive.

this all takes time and as committees change needs patience on your part.

 

as to the toddlers, chatting and hanging around...they see it as a social occasion as well, in our case some mums only ever see someone when coming to pre-school, we have needy mums as much as needy children, often more so. We still though made it quite business like giving safety of children as being imprortant and staff are always on door at opening times for those drop off moments, brief chats etc and let parent know we have to lock the door so plesse would they leave so we can do so. may sound a bit harsh but once they got used to it we no longer have a problem.

Same at collection time, and if they hang around at that time we do ask them to help tidy and put away...see them vanish fast!

 

Must admit this morning had committee member cleaning and setting up as she wanted to hang around...just asked for her to do this job and that, she felt helpful and we had less to do! Have also asked them to do some of the jobs at home when we find one they can...we give them bags of washing, sorting things out...shopping is the one they all dislike but if it takes my unpaid time they should have knowledge of it....(they pay me to do this now!!)

 

Inge

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Our nursery is connected to the local primary school, although not on the same premises (yet). We are a self-funding nursery and our committee is made up from the governors of the school. Apart from turning up for the meetings they are an absolute waste of space.........we have only been open since Jan 2005 and had to move into new premises in Sept 06.......only the Headteacher and 1 other commitee member (the treasurer) has been in to see us, the other members are a waste of time. I have invited them in on several occassions but never see them. It really makes me angry!!!! :o

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Committees! How long have you got? xD Basically, you have to accept what you have and learn to work with it or leave. Even the good committees aren't ideal and bad committees are really draining. However, I put up with it because it is local and convenient and the money is nice to have. Perhaps you can work out a list of pro's and cons and from that weigh up whether it is worth it? I have always promised myself that as soon as the balance tips I would leave, as I had one year which was such a struggle and was probably the worst time in my life. Looking back I can't believe I stayed, but things have been a lot better since then and I have actually enjoyed my job most of the time. :o

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Oh i feel so much better knowing I am not alone.

 

Committees ! We had a meeting - this week and all they wanted to discuss was the cake they brought along and when we could all go out for the night. They were really shocked when I wanted to discuss a member of staff who has been signed off sick for ages and I need some cover and advertising a vacany.

 

They have wanted to put a child on seperate table at the Xmas party - due to religious dietary restrictions.

 

The children to eat lunch on the floor everyday - so don't need to buy more tables.

 

They have actually implied in the past I am not fully committeed to the pre-school as I don't want to go to the pub with them. I have my own young family, work all day and spend my nights studying, planning, sleeping or reading this forum. I really value my family time and want to keep my work as work, and really don't party I'm far too old and boring.

 

I am actually very realsitic and don't expect miracles as they are only volunteers - in my experience it's my development worker who puts more pressure on them. They know their roles but if they choose not to do them - it always comes down to paid staff - we are lucky and have an administator.

 

In todays enviroment with the increased pressure on us to run pre-schools as professional business's I am really not sure that the committees are ideal. We spend so long training and have pressure on us to improve - we then have to persuade the committee!!!!!

 

Sorry I feel so much better for that.

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wow thank you everyone.

I seem to have opened a can of worms! :o

 

It makes me feel much better that I am not alone.

Having an issue now about training - when I asked to go on a course, the reply was 'why, I thought you were qualified'!******** xD

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Oooooooooh we are so lucky - have a brilliant committee (not always been like this though) - they love to get together socially, have found us lots of Grants, fundraise like there's no tomorrow, and fully support the staff in all we do - they have been with us for the last 2 - 3 years, and any new members which have joined have been co-erced along with them - We are so lucky - BUT all due to change at the end of July :o most of the committee are standing down next September as their children start big school (Lucky big school - they'll have a ready made PTA!) - the committee have been sending out letters and trying to entice people along to form our next committee - No such luck though - we have no takers for Chair, Treasurer and Secretary, and just a couple of mums who said they don't mind being an Ordinary member to lend a hand occasionally.

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